Puducherry CM V Narayanwamy’s dharna continues, Kiran Bedi’s talks offer fails


Puducherry Lt Governor Kiran Bedi cut short her New Delhi trip and returned here, offering to hold talks Sunday evening with Chief Minister V Narayanwamy to end his five-day old dharna, but the initiative failed to take off with the latter imposing pre conditions for the meeting. After the parleys scheduled later in the evening were cancelled, Bedi accused the Chief Minister of imposing conditions on the venue and officials to be present only to stretch the matter unduly as it suits him politically. Bedis offer came hours after Narayanasamy warned that the dharna infornt of Raj Nivas would be intensified into a jail bharo agitation from February 20. Our protest will continue till our demands, contained in the letter sent to the Lt governor on February 7, are met, he said. On Sunday morning, the chief minister, his ministers and leaders of the ruling coalition hoisted black flags atop their residences as part of their protest against the Lt governor. Claiming that Bedi had threatened to take the protesters to task, Narayanasamy said, We will not be cowed down by such threats and we are prepared even to court arrest. Bedi, who left for Delhi on February 14, returned this afternoon and shot off a letter to Narayanasamy inviting him and his colleagues for a meeting in the evening at Raj Nivas. As soon as he received the letter, the Chief Minister sent his reply requesting Bedi to hold the meeting at the Chief Secretariat. In his letter, the CM had very specifically stated that the Officer on Special Duty or Consultant of the office of Lt Governor should not be present at the meeting. Bedi in turn sent a letter pointing out that by imposing these conditions regarding venue of the meeting, the officers to be present at the discussion, he only wanted to stretch the matter unduly as it suits him politically. She also informed Narayanasamy that she had cut short her public engagements and returned to Puducherry to hold meeting with him to avoid inconvenience to people of Puducherry due to his politically motivated agitations. Earlier, Bedi had offered to discuss the issues raised by him, on February 21, but her sudden departure even as the Chief Minister was continuing his dharna had drawn criticism from various leaders, who accused her of disrespecting democracy. The Lt Governor and the government headed by Narayanasamy had been at loggerheads over various issues ever since Bedi assumed office in May 2016. The dharna continued for the fifth day with different political party leaders from Tamil Nadu including the DMK president M K Stalin and the VCK leader Thirumavalavan calling on the Chief Minister extending support to the protest. Narayanasamy, his cabinet colleagues and legislators belonging to the Congress and the DMK are staging the dharna to protest against the negative stand of Bedi towards the territorial governments proposals.

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